While we’re still waiting on the official salary cap number for the 2021 NFL season, teams have already begun making moves to free up space. The Falcons are no different, facing an expected deficit of around $20M even after the previously-announced cuts of veterans Ricardo Allen and Allen Bailey.
Atlanta has reportedly begun making additional moves, cutting veteran offensive lineman and 2020 left guard starter James Carpenter per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The #Falcons are releasing veteran guard James Carpenter, source said.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 9, 2021
Carpenter signed a 4-year contract with the Falcons prior to the 2019 season alongside fellow veteran Jamon Brown. The moves were expected to solidify an offensive line that suffered numerous injuries in 2018. Unfortunately, Carpenter struggled with injuries in 2019 and appeared in only 11 games. He had a bounce-back season in 2020, starting 13 games at a mostly solid level and helping to stabilize the line.
The writing was on the wall for Carpenter heading into 2021, however, as he carried a $6.4M cap hit. His mostly average play and approximately $4M cap savings if cut made him an obvious candidate for release, particularly in a year where the salary cap could drop significantly.
Carpenter will be 32 in 2021 and will likely have suitors as a potential starter or experienced veteran backup. His release creates a significant void at left guard for the Falcons, who don’t have a replacement readily available on the roster. It’s possible the team could look towards swing tackle Matt Gono, but Gono struggled when called upon at guard in 2020. It’s much more likely that Atlanta adds a veteran free agent or drafts Carpenter’s replacement in the middle rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Join us in thanking Carpenter for his time in Atlanta and wishing him the best of luck going forward.